CALGARY — A Calgary judge says a "callous and remorseless" man who killed a mother and her young daughter must wait 50 years before he has a chance at parole.
A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year of first-degree murder in the 2016 deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman.
The convictions carry an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, but Justice Beth Hughes ruled Tuesday that Downey must wait double that time before he can ask the parole board for release.
"The gravity of the offence, Mr. Downey's moral blameworthiness, and his degree of responsibility are at the highest level," the judge said, noting Downey planned and deliberated on the girl's murder for hours before he killed her.
Downey showed no emotion as Hughes read her decision. An uncle and cousin of Baillie embraced in the courtroom.
The Crown had argued Downey's record of escalating crimes since his early 20s and the brutality of the murders warranted consecutive periods of parole ineligibility — a provision allowed when someone is convicted of multiple murders.
Downey's lawyers, however, argued a 50-year wait would be tantamount to a death sentence because their 49-year-old client would have no hope of release until his mid-90s.
The trial heard Downey killed Baillie because he blamed her for the breakdown of his relationship with his girlfriend, who was Baillie's best friend, and that Baillie had dissuaded the woman from working for Downey as an escort.
Jurors heard Taliyah was a witness who needed to be silenced.
Both died by asphyxiation.
Graphic evidence was presented in court of how Baillie was found dead in a laundry basket in her daughter's bedroom with duct tape wrapped around her face, neck and wrists. And her daughter was missing.
Three days later, the girl's body was discovered in some bushes in a rural area east of the city.
Downey repeatedly denied the killings in his testimony and suggested someone named Terrance was to blame.
He apologized at his sentencing hearing in March to Baillie and Taliyah's friends and family, but did not admit to the killings.
In her decision, Hughes said evidence at trial showed Downey exchanged some 90 flirtatious texts with a woman over a two-hour span the day Baillie and her daughter were killed, including while he was disposing of the girl's body.
"These texts illustrate Mr. Downey experienced no remorse after killing Ms. Baillie and then, a number of hours later, a five-year-old defenceless child," she said.
"One can only conclude he is a callous and remorseless individual regardless of his in-court statement."
Scott Hamilton, Baillie's uncle and Taliyah's great-uncle, told reporters outside court the sentencing was a long time coming for the family. He said they are grateful to Calgary police, Crown prosecutors and the judge.
"Sara and Taliyah are always in our thoughts," he said, choking back tears. "We miss them dearly."